The Evolution of a New Practice: How Applied Metapsychology Came into Being
During my psychiatric training I was exposed to many different theories and approaches and opinions. My patients seemed to improve, but it was a slow and uncertain process and, truthfully, I was “shooting from the hip”. If the truth be known, I did not really know what I was doing. And it seemed small consolation that no one else seemed to know what they were doing either. I would present the same patient to two or three clinical supervisors and get two or three completely different diagnoses and prescriptions for treatment. I had naively thought that there had to be a body of knowledge, an agreed-upon set of principles and methodologies that formed the basis of standard psychiatric practice. Instead, I found I had to play it by ear and hope for the best.
Now I find myself surrounded by people who know what they are doing and love doing it, who do have an agreed upon set of principles and methodologies and who are applying these methodologies successfully toward the betterment of others. I feel my original dream – the one I went into psychiatry to fulfill – is well on its way to being realized.
I don’t really feel that the answer to the world’s problems is yet another New Age theory and methodology to add to the confusion. And that brings me around to the topic of Applied Metapsychology and what we are trying to accomplish with it. Sooner or later, it is necessary to come up with a theory that can reconcile and align the vast array of different methods and explain why and how they work. Whatever the specifics of that discipline may be, that is what I call “metapsychology”. It is a study that attempts to describe the fundamental truths about human nature that underlies the various psychologies and practices. This is the sense in which Freud first used the term in 1896. It was to be a study of that which underlies psychology – a way of understanding the functioning of the psyche at its deepest level. Out of this study comes the actual practice and use of the subject, applied to relieving trauma, promoting personal growth, and assisting people to reach their potential, and that is “Applied Metapsychology”.
The study of Applied Metapsychology is the study of individual experience and ability, as viewed and exercised by the individual person. It is a profoundly person-centered approach, one that always looks from the inside out, never from the outside in, as is done in most branches of psychology. It is a study of the fundamental components of a person’s world and how the person assembles these components into a world – or a life – that is most satisfactory for him or her.
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